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History of Minden Presbyterian Church

Presbyterianism entered Louisiana from two directions, first by way of New Orleans and secondly via Arkansas. Sylvester Larned, a young graduate student from Princeton, came to New Orleans in 1818 to engage in evangelistic endeavors. He erected a church building, but was claimed by the Yellow Fever after just two years. The Presbytery of Louisiana, which included New Orleans, was organized in 1835 or 1836. At about the same time, missionaries operating in Arkansas extended their range of labor to include portions of north Louisiana.

Rev. A. R. Banks of Spring Hill, Arkansas, the first Presbyterian minister to preach in this area, addressed a small congregation in the courthouse at Overton in 1838. In 1839 or 1840, Rev. Banks and Rev. John Boggs conducted a series of meetings in Minden. At this meeting, some 12 to 15 people were converted, including some prominent citizens of Minden.

It appears that no church was organized at that time, but Rev. Boggs continued to reside in Minden, preaching and teaching for a period of nearly two years.

In the fall of 1851, Rev. J. Franklin Ford of Shreveport organized the Minden Presbyterian Church. Due to the loss of early Sessional records, the exact date of organization is not known. The name of the Minden Church first appears in the Minutes of the General Assembly in 1852. That means that the church was organized between April 1, 1851 and April 1, 1852. In the Minutes of the Presbytery of Louisiana, we find that at a meeting on January 15, 1852, Rev. J. Franklin Ford reported that he had organized three churches, Mt. Zion in Caddo Parish, Minden Church in Minden, and Homer Church in Homer, LA. The “History of Presbyterianism in North Louisiana” and records in the Homer church showed that Rev. Ford organized the church in Homer on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 1851. Most of our old records indicate that Minden Presbyterian Church was organized probably in late October or early November 1851.

Even after organization, the Presbyterian congregation was without the services of a regularly installed pastor until February 12, 1854, when Rev. John E. Davidson, a young Princeton graduate, was installed as the first pastor of the church. He died the following spring at the age of 28. Travel between churches on horseback in all kinds of weather made life difficult. Death at an early age was common.

Contributed by Susie Lester